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J Androl. 2007 Jul-Aug;28(4):555-60. Epub 2007 Feb 21.

Metformin restores the penile expression of nitric oxide synthase in high-fat-fed obese rats.

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Department of Urology, College of Medicine, Yeungnam University, 317-1 Daemyung-Dong, Nam-Gu, Daegu 705-035, Republic of Korea.


Obesity is a well-known risk factor for erectile dysfunction, which is associated with reduced penile nitric oxide synthase (NOS) expression. Recently it was reported that metformin activates AMP-activated protein kinase (AMPK), which increases the expression of neuronal (n) NOS and endothelial (e) NOS. Thus, to evaluate whether metformin restores NOS expression in penile tissue, we measured penile expression of nNOS and eNOS after 4 weeks of metformin treatment (300 mg/kg/d) in 5-month-old high-fat-fed obese (HFO) rats. HFO rats have increased fat accumulation in visceral areas and marked suppression of nNOS and eNOS expression in penile tissue. However, metformin treatment decreased visceral fat deposition and restored nNOS and eNOS expression in penile tissue. The levels of AMPK and phosphorylated AMPK were also decreased in HFO rats but were subsequently elevated by metformin treatment. These results suggest that expression of NOS was suppressed by the high-fat diet but restored by metformin treatment. The effect of metformin on the expression of NOS may be associated with its activation of AMPK.

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